Awakened Living Study Program, Lesson 9: FORGIVENESS
Dear brothers and sisters: Good morning and thank you for attending our weekly Awakened Living Study Program. My name is Alaye Soteme and I will be your host. Our topic for today’s Study is FORGIVENESS. May we focus our full attention on this study for the lessons of life because knowledge is POWER, knowledge is SUCCESS, knowledge is FORGIVENESS, knowledge is WISDOM, knowledge is ENLIGHTENMENT and knowledge is AWAKENED LIVING.
All quotes relating to GOD are interpreted in a Universal sense; in other words our use of the word GOD does not refer to any religion, cultural Gods, saviors, or created Gods. GOD is the underlying ESSENCE of the Universe. GOD has no chosen people, GOD has no Sacred Text and GOD has no Sacred Place! The Universe is the Sacred Text, the Universe is the Sacred Place and all creatures are Testaments of GOD!
Further you are here to look at life from a different angle. You are not here to follow what others have put in place be it their religion, their Gods, their sacred texts, their beliefs or their way of thinking. You are here to share your LIGHT with the world. The beliefs of our ancestors are our liabilities. Our challenge is to look at life in ways that promote interdependence and destroy all forms of discrimination including racism, tribalism, nationalism, nepotism, fundamentalism, fanaticism, favoritism, exclusivism, chosen people and racial superiority.
Lastly, none of the quotes here is absolute or written in blood. They are all human thoughts and ideas based on their experiences and according to their levels of consciousness. The Awakened Living Study Program is a platform to study what others have said and improve on them. Do not for any reason use the quotes as mantra for life because you are the LIGHT!
You may offer an appropriate prayer before reading, discussing and reflecting on the famous quotes and the Sacred Texts verses. You may use the following prayer:
O LOVE who pervades the universe, we thank you for this opportunity to learn. We pray for LOVE to manifest amongst us to guide our readings, discussions and reflections. We specially pray for peace of mind and save us from all distractions and concerns of mind and body so that we may learn the lessons of life for our guidance and the transformation of our lives. In the name of Love, the Earth and the Universe, Amen.
The Study Leader may make announcements at this time. Welcome new members, recognize birthdays or anniversaries; make an award or recognize a contribution; announce Circle of Life successes. This is also an opportunity for anyone to share an experience, give thanks or make a request for special prayers.
The leader or an appointed person will stand and read the opening thoughts. The opening thoughts explain the topic of discussion. You may use the information below or explain it in your own words.
Some of us find it very easy to forgive and like children who are hurt by their playmates we forgive and forget with ease. If your child hurts another child and the child is crying or both are crying and you check them out later you will mostly find that they have made up and are playing again. That is the life of children; their hurt does not last and they do not hold grudges or resentment. There might be situations in the adult world in which some people could also forgive and forget easily like children. For instance if someone stole the wood in front of your home you do not say “I’m going to get this guy so that he does not do it to my neighbors; instead you are more likely to joke about the loss of your pile of wood. Again if a friend or a family member borrowed money from you but was unable to repay it; I think most people would be more likely to forgive the debt. If you are serious about your friendship and you love your family members you do not let money to be the cause of disharmony. However when someone breaks into your house and takes away some of your valuables the stakes become high and you are not thinking about forgiveness; instead you are thinking about someone who has committed a crime and you want the law to get him. However depending on how attached you are to the valuables you may decide to forgive and forget. Now let us suppose that this time it is not the wood in front of your home and it is not the money you lent to your friend or family member and it is not your valuable belongings but that someone just killed your parents, or your son (daughter) got killed by a gang member or you got raped by an intruder how would you feel? The stakes are now very high! If you imagine any of these situations you might begin to shed tears more especially when you relate it to a real life situation. It hurts and it hurts to your very soul. They have violated your body if you were rapped and they have taken a part of you or they have taken away your will to live if they killed a loved one. With these cases we cannot easily tell someone to forgive and forget; they have to work it out for themselves. The best we can do is to be there, to be present to show that we care. Their life has changed but it is their responsibility to accept the journey and go through the stages of denial, anger, guilt, depression and finally acceptance. In many cases the acceptance stage leads to forgiveness and a contribution to society!
Take turns to read the famous quotes and discuss what you have learned from each quote. Please give credit to the author of the quote and as an assignment for presentations each person may choose an author and find out more about the author to share with the group during the next session.
1 Forgiveness is the giving, and so the receiving, of life. George MacDonald
2 He that cannot forgive others breaks the bridge over which he must pass himself; for every man has need to be forgiven. Thomas Fuller
3 I can forgive, but I cannot forget, is only another way of saying, I will not forgive. Forgiveness ought to be like a cancelled note - torn in two, and burned up, so that it never can be shown against one. Henry Ward Beecher
4 The practice of forgiveness is our most important contribution to the healing of the world. Marianne Williamson
5 To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you. Lewis B. Smedes
6 The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong. Mahatma Gandhi
7 When you forgive, you in no way change the past - but you sure do change the future. Bernard Meltzer
8 True forgiveness is when you can say, "Thank you for that experience. Oprah Winfrey
9 Forgiveness is not an occasional act, it is a constant attitude. Martin Luther King Jr.
10 Forgiveness is Truth itself, it is Righteousness, it is the Veda. It is the Supreme virtue in this world. Hence, all people should develop the quality of forgiveness. Sri Sathya Sai Baba
Sacred Texts Quotes
Take turns to read all the sacred text quotes and discuss what you have learned from each quote. In your discussion compare and contrast the quotes. What did you learn from the similarities and differences? What quote inspires you? What life lessons did you learn from the quote? Please give credit to the sacred text during your reading by mentioning the name of the text and where the quote could be found.
1 Intelligence, spiritual vision, victory over delusion, patient forgiveness, truth, self-harmony, peacefulness, joys and sorrows, to be and not to be, fear and freedom from fear, harmlessness and non-violence, an ever-quietness, satisfaction, simple austerity, generosity, honor and dishonor: these are the conditions of mortals and they all arise from me. Hinduism: Bhagavad Gita 10:4-5
2 If you are offering your gift at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. Christianity: New Testament: Matthew 5.23-24
3 Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots. Christianity: New Testament Luke 23:34
4 Subvert anger by forgiveness. JainisM: Samanasuttam 136
5 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. Christianity: New Testament: Colossians 3:13
6 You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. Christianity: New Testament: Matthew 5:43-48
7 Oh Gracious God, Grant Life to him who harbors ill-will and malice against us and against whom we harbor hatred. Let him prosper and let us also prosper. May we be blessed with cattle, horses, sons, grandsons, home health and wealth. May all prosper and may we also prosper. Hinduism: Atharva Veda 7/81/5.
8 He abused me, he struck me, he overcame me, he robbed me' -- in those who do not harbor such thoughts hatred will cease. Buddhism: Dammapada 1.3-4
9 The best deed of a great man is to forgive and forget. Islam (Shiite). Nahjul Balagha, Saying 201
10 Where there is forgiveness, there is God Himself. Sikhism. Adi Granth, Shalok, Kabir, p. 1372
The teaching story is a story, a parable or thoughts related to the topic of discussion. An appointed person will read each story and the group will take turns and discuss. What does the story mean to you? What did you learn from the story? Did the story add anything new to the topic of discussion? How has this study enriched your life?
Forgive and Forget (AVALOKITESVARA BODHISATTVA): Thus Have I Heard
"During the Ch'ing Dynasty in China, in Yang Chou, there was a person named Ch'eng Pai Lin. One day he had a dream in which Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva told him, 'Tomorrow the Ch'ing army will arrive. Out of the seventeen people in your household, sixteen will survive. But you cannot escape your fate. Tomorrow Wang Ma Tze will kill you, because in a past life you stabbed him twenty-six times and killed him.' Then Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva added, 'There is still an expedient method that may work. Prepare a fine feast tomorrow, and when he comes, invite him to eat with you. Afterwards, allow him to kill you. Perhaps that will change things.' The dream was vivid and when Ch'eng Pai Lin awoke the following morning, he went out and bought wine and vegetables, brought them back, and had a feast prepared. Then noontime came, someone knocked at the door. He opened the door and said, 'Are you Wang Ma Tze?' 'How strange,' said the man at the door, 'I'm from the north, how did you know my name?' His host invited him in and said, '... You're welcome; I've prepared a feast for you. Won't you join me?' Then he related the dream he'd had the night before. 'Last life I killed you with twenty-six stabs of a knife, and so this life you have come to kill me. After we've finished this meal, you can do it.' Wang Ma Tze pondered over this and said, 'But if you killed me last life, and I kill you this life, won't you kill me again next life? It will just go on and on. No, I won't kill you.' Then he took his knife and scratched twenty-six marks on his host's back to represent that the debt had been repaid. Not only did Wang Ma Tze not kill his host, but afterwards they became very good friends. Wang said to his host, 'The Ch'ing army is following en masse. They are not reasonable, so the best would be for you and your family to go to Su Chou. It's safe there.' So that is what Ch'eng Pai Lin did. This is a case of turning grievance into friendship and reversing the retribution that is due one. From this you can see that it's possible to alter one's fate." (Master Hui Seng)
The closing meditation presents the highlights of the Study. The highlights should include among others what you have learned and what aspects of the study are worth noting. The leader or an appointed person may share the closing meditation. You may use the thoughts and information provided below but I encourage you to use the contributions of the participants and current relevant information.
Forgiveness is what brings us together again. As a people on this planet we face the same problems and challenges. Separation in any form rubs us of our resources. Let us be united through forgiveness because on the cosmic scale no one is really special and on Earth none is an island. We are all interconnected for good as Dr. King eloquently put it:
We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. This is the interrelated structure of all reality. You can never be what you ought to be until I become what I ought to be. By the same token, though, I can never become what I ought to be until you become what you ought to be.
Let us forgive each other!
You may accept gifts and donations at this time for the work you are doing. It takes effort, time and money to put the Study Program together so I encourage attendants to give. An appointed person may now pass the donation bag. The leader may bless the gifts after the donations.
Always close your Study Program with a prayer or an affirmation. Pray for guidance and direction during the week. Pray for everyone present. The leader or an appointed person may offer the closing prayer. You may use the sample prayer if needed.
The Blessing of Unanswered Prayers -Unknown Confederate soldier
I asked for strength that I might achieve;
I was made weak that I might learn humbly to obey.
I asked for health that I might do greater things;
I was given infirmity that I might do better things.
I asked for riches that I might be happy;
I was given poverty that I might be wise.
I asked for power that I might have the praise of men;
I was given weakness that I might feel the need of God.
I asked for all things that I might enjoy life;
I was given life that I might enjoy all things.
I got nothing that I had asked for,
but everything that I had hoped for.
Almost despite myself my unspoken prayers were answered;
I am, among all men, most richly blessed.
In the name of Love, the Earth and the Universe, Amen
You may serve refreshments after the Study. This is a time to relax and socialize. Get to know the people in the Program with you and I mean really know them well. One of the secrets of success is connection so I encourage you to know the people around you. The host may decide what to serve or he or she may ask the attendants what they want for refreshments before each Study Program.
You may now entertain the group with your talent in music, songs, dance and poetry including playing musical instruments. This is also a good time to share some Awakened Living tips for the benefit of the group.
Circle of Life
The Circle of Life depicts different aspects of your life. You are at the center and the different aspects radiate outwards to form a circle as long as they are in harmony. You can pinpoint an aspect of your life at any given time and find out if you are in harmony with the rest of the circle. If an aspect needs improvement you may have an uneven circle. Your challenge then is to work on the area that needs improvement in order to keep it in harmony with the rest of the circle.
There are 12 aspects in this version of the Wheel of Life including Health, Spirituality, Family, Relationships, Education, Mission, Finances, Work, Play, Personal Development, Environment, and creativity. Take time to answer the following questions and begin to work on the areas that need improvement.
1. Are you healthy?
2. Do you have any bad habits like drinking, smoking, pornography, fast foods and doing drugs?
1. Are you spiritual?
2. When was the last time you meditated, chanted, affirmed or prayed?
1. Do you have a family?
2. Are you happy with your spouse, children, and parents?
1. Do you have friends?
2. Are you happy with your friends, co-workers, boss?
1. Do you have a degree?
2. When was the last time you read a book?
1. Do you have a mission statement?
2. What is your life mission?
1 Are you financially stable?
2. Do you have any debts?
1. Do you have a job, career?
2. Are you happy with your job, career?
1. Do you play regularly?
2. When was the last time you played with your friends, children, spouse, parents or pet?
1. Do you lose your temper often?
2. When was the last time you took a class on human development?
1 Are you happy with your environment?
2. How are you reducing pollution?
1. Are you sharing your creativity?
2. When was the last time you wrote a poem, painted, sang, danced, or played a musical instrument?